Skip Navigation or Skip to Content
Two children and an older man look at a label in the Natural World galleries.

The power of gifts in wills

Our collections have the power to inspire people today and long into the future. But without protection the objects in our care, and the stories they hold, risk being lost forever.


As a charity, we rely on donations, including gifts in wills, to study, care for and protect our remarkable objects and to keep their stories alive for generations to come.

You can find out more about our work, activities and achievements from the past year in our Review 21.

All of this is only possible thanks to our supporters, including donors who have left gifts in their wills.

People from all walks of life have left gifts in their will to National Museums Scotland

These are just a few of the generous individuals who have enabled us to continue to inspire future generations through the remarkable objects and stories in our collections.

Our curator Ashleigh Whiffin explores how one gift, left in memory of Edward Pelham-Clinton, has inspired a new generation of scientists to combat biodiversity loss.

A family interacts with a touchscreen next to a display case.

New Zealander Elizabeth McArthur moved to London to work as a teacher, and later to East Lothian with her husband to retire. They regularly visited the National Museum of Scotland; when Elizabeth passed away she left a gift in her will to National Museums Scotland and also asked for any funeral donations to be gifted to the museum. When Elizabeth’s family told us she had an interest in Chinese ceramics, we put her generous donation to a suitable use: contributing to new ceramics displays in our Exploring East Asia gallery.

Born in Airdrie and educated in Glasgow, George McNeil spent most of his life in Edinburgh and proudly took visitors to sights including the National Museum of Scotland. As a proud Scot and a teacher, he had a great knowledge of Scottish history and always understood the importance of both family and national history to the cultural inheritance of the country. Inspired by the museum's collections, he wanted to leave a gift in his will so that future generations could enjoy the museum throughout their lives just as he had. 

Engineer Ian Fleming had a varied career in the agricultural sector which took him all over Scotland. He was passionate about engaging younger generations with Scotland’s agricultural heritage and loved visiting the National Museum of Rural Life. He and his wife Margaret left a generous gift to the museum in their wills which helped to fund three-year programme of improvements. Today, visitors can continue to learn about Scotland’s landscape and all that it gives us, thanks to Ian and Margaret’s gift.

Edinburgh local Norma Drummond visited the National Museum of Scotland throughout her life. She witnessed the museum change over the years and saw first-hand the latest 15-year redevelopment of the Victorian building into a space that all generations could enjoy. Her favourite place was the new Fashion & Style gallery which opened in 2016. Inspired by the museum's redevelopment, she wanted to leave a gift in her will so that future generations could enjoy the museum throughout their lives just as she had. 

How you can help

While being from all walks of life, the donors above have two things in common: their desire to support National Museums Scotland; and the support from a legal professional in drawing up their gift in their will.

You can help us by raising awareness of: 

  • The benefits to the individual of making a charitable gift in their will 
  • The different ways individuals can choose to support a charity that means a lot to them 
  • The option to leave a gift to National Museums Scotland and the impact gifts like these make to our work 

Thank you for taking the time to find out more about National Museums Scotland, and thank you for all that you do to help individuals to support the causes they care about.  

If you would like this information in a format to share with your clients, please direct them to our Join & Donate webpages.

For further information, please contact:

Aimée Hooper
Development Manager

E: T: 0131 247 4191

If you would like to explore other ways of supporting National Museums Scotland, from Corporate Membership to sponsoring unique and engaging content, please contact:

Kirsty MacNeish
Development Manager

E: T: 0131 247 4471

You may be interested in

Back to top